Friday, July 19, 2013

Nariakira Rokugatsu-gou, 2013

The problem with reporting on annual events is that they happen every year. And, by that, I mean that if you see the event once, seeing it again the next year really doesn't provide you with much of anything new. Kagoshima celebrated Rokugatsu-gou, the anniversary of the death of Shimdzu lord Nariakira on July 15 and 16. This time, I went on the 15th, when the event starts with an evening shrine visit. All of the street vendors were set up, but I didn't see the performance stage. Generally, it's behind the main shrine buildings in the area behind the parking lot. I should have gone back on the 16th to see if they had the traditional dance and music contests, but I was kind of disappointed in the first night and opted to stay home on the second day.

(Inflatable figures, including Anpanman, and various Power Rangers-like characters.)

The two things I disliked this year were the street stalls, and some of the younger crowd. First, the attendants running the stalls are probably university students working part time, or possibly yakuza there for community service. In nearly half the stalls, the attendants were sitting in the back corner, smoking cigarettes and looking sullen. If there were 2 people in the stalls, they were talking to each other and ignoring the customers. I wanted to get something just because I was there, and it would either be a shaved ice cone or a can of beer, depending on which I found first. I located a shaved ice stall (kakigori), and asked for a melon-flavored cone. The guy added so little syrup that it didn't even change the color of the ice. So, $2 for 10 cents worth of frozen water.

(Looking out from the shrine to Central Park.)

The event grounds run from Terukuni jinga to Central Park 3 blocks away. Mostly, it's just the food stalls, and a beer garden set up by one of the hotels. A lot of the people in the crowd gather in Central Park to stand and eat food. Problem #2 was that a group of junior high schoolers on mama charis kept weaving between people or staking out a section to stand around and look tough. At least one of them was desperate to start a fight and went off on one of his friends for touching his hair. The entire atmosphere that evening was kind of unfriendly, but maybe that was just me. Given the heat, it was a pretty easy decision to skip day two.

(Same view, but this time with the flash turned on.)

(A big part of the festival are the hand-painted banners.)

(The traditional bamboo wreath. It's lucky for couples to step through it together.)

(Nariakira, the Shimadzu lord the festival is dedicated to.)

(The lines to the shrine for praying and making wishes was pretty short this time.)

(Usually, people don't wear kimono or yukata during the summer because they're too hot. They're generally reserved for holiday events.)

(Some of the shochu donated to the shrine.)

(Wouldn't be a shrine without miko (shrine maidens). These two were serving blessed sake, and selling fortunes dedicated to men and women.)

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